How do you visit all of Tokyo in only one day? The answer is that you simply can't! There is just way too much to do, to see, and knowing me, of course to EAT! So let's break it down into a couple days of how to best spend time in different parts of town.
For Day 1, we explore the east side of town and visit some of the coolest places you won't find anywhere else in the world. A sushi breakfast of fish freshly caught that morning? Check! A two-story store focused exclusively on Hello Kitty? Check! Tokyo is such an amazing and unique place, so let's get started and begin exploring!
(1) Toyosu Market
When one thinks of the definitive signature dish of Japan, one often thinks of sushi, and there's no better place in the Tokyo for this than Toyosu Market! Recently opened in 2018 to replace the older Tsukiji Market ahead of the (now 2021) Olympics, the new market is now housed in 3 super convenient and modern buildings that makes it even easier for tourists.
If you're an early riser or suffering from jetlag (as I often do) and looking for a place to go at 5am in the morning - look no further and head to Toyosu! The legendary tuna auctions that you've heard so much about are hosted between 5:30am to 6:30am each morning. Watch from the observatory deck as traders bid INSANE amounts for whole tunas. How insane, you ask? A record of $3.1 million for one tuna is how.
After the auction, you can relax and have yourself a sushi breakfast serving the freshest fish you will have ever had! Yes, it sounds weird eating raw fish in the morning, but trust me, this is something not to be missed!!! If you're willing to brave the line for 2 to 4 hours, head to famous Sushi Dai or Sushi Daiwa for their omakase meals. The 4000 Yen meal is on par with the best Michelin starred sushi-yas around the world at a fourth of the price. But for those not wanting to wait and would rather spend more time exploring Tokyo, try out Iso Sushi or Isawa Sushi, which are just as great.
There are no words to describe teamLab... you just got to go and experience it for yourself. teamLab is a digital museum (conveniently located RIGHT across from Toyosu Market). The museum is divided into five sections - Borderless World, Athletics Forest, Future Park, Forest of Lamps and the En Tea house - but some of the exhibits are not confined to their respective rooms as they transition from one to another seamlessly. All the exhibits are interactive: you're encouraged to touch, follow, disrupt or add to them. All the artwork is ever changing - original and dependent on dependent on audience participation. As teamLab puts it, 'no two visits will be the same'.
Ginza is my favorite area in Tokyo. So much to eat, so much to drink, so much to shop! If you're into shopping... this is the place. It has everything - including several department stores, all the high-end designers, and plenty of more economical fashion brands as well. Naturally there's also Sanrio World - a two story store focused on Hello Kitty.
Aside from shopping, there's also Ginza Crossing. The best place to see it is actually from the top. Head up to the Tokyu Plaza Ginza. On the 12th floor is the Kiriko Terrace. If you look down from the north west corner - you'll be able to see it!
Oh, and if you need a break from the busyness of Ginza, step into Dior store and head up to the Dior Cafe - where you can escape into Paris for some delicate, beautiful pastry.
[credit] Tokyo in pics
(4) Bird Land
It would be a complete miss if you went to Tokyo and didn't have yakitori for dinner! BBQ meat and vegetable on a stick... how bad can it be?!
Bird Land is located in the basement of what looks like an office building in Ginza. This one Michelin star yakitori place is filled to the brim with locals and tourists devouring skewers after skewers of perfectly grilled chicken. They only use the finest quality Okukuji Shamo Chicken (if that means anything to you), and each part of the chicken is carefully grilled on top of the best Japanese charcoal, Kishu Bincho-tan (again, just trying to be helpful). If that last sentence didn't engage you... how about this... if you're interested in having the juiciest, tastiest piece of chicken and be blown away with how different each part of the chicken tastes - you need to come here! Actually, you need to make a reservation, and then come here!
[credit: Wally Gobetz]
(5) Bar High Five
There are SO many good bars in Ginza (see Top Bars in Ginza post)... and you really can't go wrong with any of them (as a matter of fact... it might end up being whichever one you can get into, since most of them are rather small). But if I have to recommend a MUST visit - it has to be Tokyo's most famous bar: Bar High Five. You probably know Bar High Five from all the "best bars" lists or celebrity travel shows, or you might recognize it by its owner - the most recognizable bartender in the world, Hidetsugu Ueno and his famous pompadour. Bar High Five is known for the classic cocktails. But it also has a selection of locally inspired drinks as well. Just tell the bartender what you're craving, and they can help you! If you're lucky... you just might be able to sit at the bar and see Hidetsugu Ueno perform his famous diamond ice craving! (Pro Tip - like everything else in Tokyo... make sure you make a reservation!)